Dr. Weir sat in front of the Ancient console that served her as a desk in the small room that she'd chosen for an office in the Ancient outpost beneath Atlantis. The floating chair upon which she sat bobbed gently under her weight as she leaned back and blew out a tired breath.
What had originally been a boring babysitting operation on the planet's surface had quickly escalated into a full blown administrative endeavor. The growth of the surface facilities was continually increasing as they brought more natural resources into the fold and had even gone so far as to necessitate clearing away more ice from around Atlantis. As the city sat now, the vertical 'cone' that had blocked lateral view had been shaven back to a very low angle and enlarged to nearly a three kilometer radius out from the shield perimeter.
Over fifty buildings extended beyond the central outpost, most of which appeared in daylight, as opposed to those whose 'sky' was the underside of the city. All of the structures were interconnected by transparent surface tubes that kept out the chill of the ice world's atmosphere where they extended beyond the city's ventral shield. Inside the city the air temperature was a balmy, windless 73 F, but outside the shield the winds were howling at an average of -20 F. Without the constant presence of the shield, Atlantis's exterior would freeze over within hours.
Which was why the surface facilities had to be built to withstand the cold on their own. Weir had come to think of the interconnecting tunnels as spider webs, and week by week that web grew increasingly larger. So much so that she was actually busy managing the resource collecting, processing, and distribution operations that made up Hoth's 'mining' infrastructure. And in addition to the additional facilities that Weir was having built to expand their powerbase, Stevenson had also ordered several other non-related structures built…all in all Elizabeth had her hands full, and she was loving every minute of it.
The door to her office hissed open behind her. She turned around just in time to see Stevenson walk through.
"Ah, Ryan, just the person I wanted to see," she said, spinning her hovering chair around with a datapad in her hand. "The replicators have just finished the excavation on the drone production site. They're scheduled to begin construction the day after tomorrow."
Stevenson nodded. "Good, but that's not what I came to talk to you about," he said in Ancient. Though he spoke in English, Goa'uld, Nox, or whatever other languages he needed at the time, he still reverted back to his native tongue whenever convenient.
"Oh?" Elizabeth asked, taking his cue and changing languages.
"I checked the attendance logs for the recreation areas," he said, unimpressed.
"Oh…right," Elizabeth confirmed with a slow nod of her head, knowing quite well what he was referring to.
"Why haven't you been training?"
"I have, from time to time," she said evasively. "When I need to clear my head I've been walking laps around the complex, and given the amount of figures I'm having to deal with that's been more often than not…"
"That's not good enough," Stevenson lightly reprimanded her as he held a small device over her head. "Stand up."
"Alright," she said reluctantly. He'd warned her that she might have some difficulty adjusting to her clone body if she didn't make an effort to explore and expand her physical abilities. To date she'd done very little exploring, and the only expansion had been half a centimeter to her waistline.
Stevenson ran the device up and down her height twice, then stepped back to review the results.
"How much trouble am I in?" she asked playfully.
Stevenson raised an eyebrow in her direction. "Why?" he asked forcefully.
Elizabeth frowned, glancing at the floor. "I'm just not a very physical person," she explained."It's not that I'm opposed to it, I just don't see the urgent need so long as I don't get out of shape."
"Shape?" Stevenson asked sarcastically. "You can always make improvements…and compared to some you're downright flabby."
"Uh…" she uttered, her jaw visibly dropping. "That's hardly a nice thing to say."
"I wasn't going for nice," he said, eyeing her.
She glanced down at the medical scanner in his hand. "How bad am I?"
"Not too bad," Stevenson admitted. "Minor degeneration along neural pathways, coupled with a 6% reduction in cellular growth. Immune system running 12% above average to compensate for rejected cellular tissue. Overall fat cell count up 3%..."
"Alright," she interrupted, holding up her hands for emphasis. "I get the picture. I'm a little off where I should be."
"That's easily correctable, Elizabeth. The problem is your current trend. You're losing ground with every second that passes. If your trend were positive, even minutely so, your lifestyle wouldn't be a problem. But if you don't at least try to increase your fitness trend you'll never get anywhere. That's the real problem."
Weir sighed. "And how long will that take me?"
"Years…months…depends on your progress," Stevenson told her. "And even then you have to make occasional adjustments. Bottom line is you can never 'maintain' your fitness. You either are increasing it or decreasing it…and right now you're decreasing. And for you, with a newly cloned body, that's more of a concern than for others."
"Maybe I need a training partner," Elizabeth relented. "Someone who can keep me focused on…"
"No," Stevenson said emphatically. "You have to learn to do this on your own."
"Why?" she asked, thoroughly confused.
Stevenson shook his head. "There's no way for me to explain it given your lack of prerequisite knowledge."
Stevenson placed a hand on her shoulder. "Some things you have to learn on your own."
"Trust you know what you're talking about," Elizabeth translated, "and get my fat butt in gear?"
"More or less," Stevenson agreed. "Though your butt's not actually fat. In fact, Sheppard thinks it's rather cute."
"Really?" Elizabeth asked curiously. "He said that?"
"No…but I caught him thinking it a couple of times."
Elizabeth considered that. "I guess you get to see a lot of people's thoughts, being telepathic and all. How did the Ancients tolerate the lack of privacy?"
Stevenson smiled. "It's simple. We just block everyone else out, aside from those we choose to let in. Humans just don't know how to do it."
"Hmmn, I don't suppose you could teach me how? I don't really care to have every random thought in public view."
"Oh, so you want me to help you upgrade your mind?" he said slowly, laced with implications.
Elizabeth smiled in quiet surrender. "If I'm going to upgrade my mind, why don't I also want to upgrade my body?"
Stevenson didn't say anything…he just winked at her.
"Alright…if I succeed in upgrading my body first, will you help me learn to shield my mind?"
"We can do both at the same time," Stevenson offered. "Just so long as you don't renege on your half of the deal."
Elizabeth raised her hand. "I promise."
"Good," Stevenson said, cracking a smile. "Because if you did, I'd have to retrieve one of the developmental pictures of your clone body and send it to Sheppard…one taken from the backside."
Elizabeth's eyes widened. "You wouldn't dare."
"Oh, I would. But then again you don't have anything to worry about, do you? After all you promised, and you wouldn't be thinking about breaking your promise, would you?"
Elizabeth swallowed hard, seeing in Stevenson's eyes that he knew that she wasn't serious about doing any hard training…just something light and temporary to satisfy him enough to get off her back. Now she knew she wasn't going to have much of a choice but to dive in head first…and she knew that he knew that she knew it.
"Are all Ancients this comfortable with blackmail?" she asked sarcastically.
Stevenson smiled lightly but whatever he was going to say in response was cut off by a tone on his wrist-mounted communicator. He touched a button.
"This is Devonshire in the gate room…long range sensors have picked up a fleet of ships heading our way. I would have called for Colonel Sheppard but he's offworld at the moment."
"How many?" Stevenson asked, with an odd look on his face.
"Hard to say," Devonshire said, hesitating. "Looks like at least fifty."
"Fifty!" Elizabeth said in shock.
"You can relax, Lieutenant," Stevenson said calmly. "They're still a long way off…and they're friendlies."
"Friendlies?" Devonshire asked. "Are you sure?"
"Positive," he said, his finger hovering over his communicator. "Stevenson out."
"Who are they?" Elizabeth asked.
"New allies," he answered cryptically.